The New Chitose Airport has come a long way in the last few years. I have lived in Hokkaido for a long time and I remember the days when all you could do at the airport was knock down a cup of foul tasting coffee before running for your plane. You might not know it but New Chitose Airport is Japan’s third busiest airport after Narita and Haneda. Also, the Chitose Tokyo leg is one of the busiest routes in the world with about 9 million people a year using it. And, since 2010 it has an international terminal that services many cities in Asia. It always seemed like the airport that people forgot about, but things have changed.
If you happen to have to change planes here or if you have some time to kill before your flight, there is actually quite a lot to do. I hope to show you a few of them.
Connecting the international terminal to the domestic terminal is the Smile Road. This is where the fun begins. If you have children, you will quickly find the Doraemon area. For 800 yen (for adults) and 400 yen (for small children) you get access to a number of zones. There is a library, a workshop where you can make Doraemon-themed pictures and other things, a play area, a game and photo area, a café and a shop. It closes at about 17:30 but, if you are there earlier in the day, it is a lot of fun.
Just past the Doraemon area you can find Royce’ Chocolate World. There is a series of interesting displays about the history of chocolate. Across the way you can watch the chocolate being made both by hand and by machine. This closes at 17:30 as well but if you make it there in time it is very interesting. You can then buy the chocolate in their shop. For an airport the prices are rather reasonable.
There is also an area of stuffed toys and animals but this is undergoing renovation at the present time.
Then we have the ubiquitous Starbucks and a few other cafes. If you are on an international flight, then this is a good place to take a break without going all the way to the domestic terminal.
There is also a large Hello Kitty store if you are still looking for gifts for people. I didn’t take any photos but they have Hello Kitty squid by the door. Just what everyone wants.
A little farther on we can find escalators to the fourth floor. Up here there are numerous ways for you to pass the time until you depart. There is a game center.
There's also a hundred yen shop, in case there are still a few presents you need.
A cinema that has all the latest releases. I thought about going in there just to get some popcorn.
For your last fix, an anime shop.
An onsen. It is 1,500 yen for adults, 800 yen for children, 400 yen for small children and free for kids under 3. If you are there early in the morning then they seem to charge half price between 05:00 to 07:30. They also have rooms for the night at 5,000 yen per person. Check in is 17:00 and check out is 09:00. The airport does have a large hotel but this might be a little more interesting and is certainly not expensive.
A massage parlor to ease out those knots in your muscles. Although 20 minutes at 2,300 yen is not exactly cheap.
Then, if you descend back to the third floor and head towards the domestic terminal we have the food courts, complete with ramen alley.
Any food you fell in love with while you were in Hokkaido (and be honest, there are a lot) is at the airport. You may find you have to pay more for it but the quality will be good. If you go to the food court at the back of the airport you can watch the planes taking off and landing.
Then, after you have eaten your fill, you can go down the escalator to the first floor and spend the last of your money on souvenirs. You can find anything from canned bear to live crab. If you have another connection though, I would steer clear of anything still alive. There is a Uniqlo in the center of the airport if you need a change of clothes. Not going to ask why you would, but it’s there if you need it.
And, last, there is a stamp rally. If you have children this can be a lot of fun and took us about twenty minutes.
There are six stamps scattered around the airport and once you have them all, you head for the flyers store back on the fourth floor next to the movie theater.
They have a selection of gifts to choose from and my daughter went for the paper airport.
Over an hour of work with my fat stubby fingers and the result is not too shabby.
So, if you have some time to kill, there is quite a lot to entertain you at New Chitose Airport.